Posted: 09 November '10 by Niall
Price and quality.. It’s a tricky balancing act. It’s also a pet peeve of mine – more than a few of the restaurants in Belfast get it wrong on both counts. There’s nothing worse than leaving a restaurant underwhelmed by the food and overcharged in the bill.
With this in mind Kelly and I decided to look slightly further afield and settled on the Yellow Door in Lisburn.
To those of you not in the know, the Yellow Door is rightly famous for the excellent breads and towering sandwiches in their Lisburn Road outlet, and the gourmet dining in their Portadown restaurant. Their bread is what I know the them for best, so good that The Yellow Door has an almost cultish following in Belfast – if you follow Stephen Ferris on Twitter you’ll know that the Ulster and Ireland rugby star is one of the faithful.
The Lisburn deli has been open for 4 months now and has just launched a new bistro menu, promoting an incredible £10 for a starter and a main course between 6pm and 9pm on Thursdays. Being a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) restaurant, the price appealed to my inner penny-pincher so, with a bottle of Torres “Sangre de Toro” 2009 in hand, we entered through the yellow door..
Well, it was black-framed glass affair, but artistic licence and all that..
The whole restaurant, from the deli to the bistro area, reminded us immediately of the Carluccio’s outlets and that’s no bad thing. Pine flooring, chrome shelving packed with Yellow Door cookbooks and produce, dark wood tables and chairs which are well spaced, some jazz playing in the background – it all creates a clean, airy atmosphere amid all of the epicurean treats. It’s a comfortable space, one that we were more than happy to relax and enjoy the evening in. It’s a bistro after all and, to my mind, that’s what a bistro should be – welcoming, comfortable, and familiar.
The staff have a big part to play in this, and they pulled it off here: informal and chatty without being too casual.
Although the menu did look a little sparse at first glance, having 3 starters and 3 mains to choose from, the range of flavours and ingredients between the dishes was good. It certainly didn’t present us with any difficulty in making a choice.
Kelly went for the Goats’ Cheese with Pickled Beetroot. It’s a difficult dish to get right with all of those sharp acids on one plate. The Yellow Door did a good job, though – the Goats’ Cheese was breadcrumbed and deep fried, which created another texture on the plate and muted the tangy cheese a little, while the beetroot was both sweet and tart. Thin slivers of apple added another foil to the piquant goats’ cheese, although Kelly thought that the basil-infused oil drizzled over the green salad and the pureed beetroot were perhaps at little too much.
My Caesar Salad with Parmesan Crouton was surprisingly good. I say surprisingly because I wasn’t sure that their was any real room for the chef to deviate from the standard chicken-with-creamy-sauce-on-lettuce. The chicken was lightly smoked, the sauce was delicately flavoured, and the crouton turned out to be a crisp, toasted slice of bread with melted parmesan rather than the ubiquitous cubes of stale cardboard. There were plenty of different flavours and textures here too, and they married to make a fresh, tasty and above all enjoyable salad – and it’s not often that I say that!
Our starters were on something of a sticky wicket from the start, to be honest – we were both looking forward to our main courses.
I’d chosen the Pan-fried Seabass with Chorizo and a Bean Ragout, which sounded like a great combination of flavours and textures. When the dishes were served I certainly wasn’t disappointed – the seabass fillet had crisp skin and moist, delicate flesh, served on a bed of spinach and a thick layer of the rich, tomato-based ragout. The dish was rounded off by a fried slice of chorizo and a quenelle of homemade black olive tapendade. With my glass of Spanish wine I could have been in the Med.
As good as my seabass was, Kelly clearly had the edge with her selection – Slow-roasted Pork Belly with Salt & Chilli Squid and roasting juices. There’s no part of that phrase that doesn’t sound delicious! Again, the portions were very impressive: a thick slab of pork belly which had been roasted until tender, sticky and full of flavour; 6 squid rings in a light, spicy batter; a bed of wilted spinach; creamy and flavoursome cauliflower puree; and intensely meaty roasting juices. Despite some initial doubt about the squid and pork being on the same plate, we were proved wrong – they just worked together. The dish was simply superb – worthy of any local restaurant we’ve eaten in, and certainly a higher price-tag.
|Breadcrumbed Goats’ Cheese w/pickled beetroot||£4.00|
|Smoked Chicken Caesar Salad||£4.00|
|Lamb Slow-Roast Belly of Pork w/Salt and Chilli Squid Rings||£6.00|
|Pan-fried Seabass with Chorizo and Bean Ragout||£6.00|
As much as I don’t want this review to be all about the price, I just can’t get away from it: £10 for this meal was incredible. When you take into account the fact that the ingredients are all fresh (including the squid in the squid-rings, which is something of a minor miracle in this day and age), the thought that has clearly been put into the menu, and the obvious talent of the chefs, the price is even more astounding.
Aside from the price, the quality of the cooking was high: while the starters were solid crowd-pleasing choices, the main courses really were very good, the pork belly in particular. The menu is perfect for a bistro, with a mixture of staples and some surprises thrown in there for good measure. The Yellow Door also get the portion-size right – we really didn’t need any side-dishes.
Kelly and I would certainly recommend the Yellow Door in Lisburn – it’s comfortable, friendly, easy-on-the-wallet.. but above all, it’s good.
You can see the photos here:
You can also see Yellow Door, Lisburn on Google Maps.
Categories: Restaurant Reviews